Marvel’s rock star writer Tom Taylor gets a Spidey book with rising art star Juann Cabal. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man focuses on the people surrounding our favorite web-slinger. The all-star creative pairing previously did stellar work together on All-New Wolverine.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
Tom Taylor really turns on the heart and charm with his first Spidey issue. Everything you need to know about this series is in the title Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. This is a comic book about the immediate surroundings of one Peter Parker. He’s one hell of a guy who does everything he can to take care of the people around him.
There’s no high-octane action sequence to open our story, there’s no ludicrous villain plot threatening the lives of everyone Spidey loves. Right out of the gate this is a very plain and simple story about how much Spider-Man means to his community.
Taylor populates this neighborhood with such real people, Peter included, and right away it’s so easy to relate to and understand what we’re reading. We don’t even really spend much time with Spider-Man himself as we’re introduced to all the peripheral people we don’t spend any time with in Amazing Spider-Man; it hammers home the point that this isn’t just another Spidey title.
From the people Peter passes on the street every day, to his apartment complex neighbors, to the love of his life MJ; we spend a lot of time seeing how important Spidey/Peter are through the eyes of others.
It’s not that this issue doesn’t have action either, there is just enough to keep the pace exactly where it needs to be and remind us we’re still reading a superhero comic book. There’s also a perfect dose of classic Spidey humor, Taylor demonstrates a restraint and knack for comedic timing.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is a wonderful compliment to the main Spider-Man titles. It’s a wonderful idea to produce a series where we can spend some quieter, quality time with Peter Parker and the people around him. This launch issue is very much a love letter to the character by the creative team, a sentiment that every reader will probably share if they’re buying this title.
It’s also a title that isn’t going to be for everyone. Not every fan of superhero comics is going to dig the slower paced drama with very little punching for the massively popular wall-crawler. This series will most likely become a great accent piece to the Spidey line of books for those who just can’t get enough (Myself included).
Juann Cabal might still be an “up-and-coming” artist but he sure doesn’t seem like it here. It’s no easy task to take a script with minimal action and keep readers engaged throughout.
There are plenty of veteran artists who can lose a reader’s interest with too many pages of straight dialogue in a row. Cabal displays a wide array of emotions and navigates the story splendidly. Cabal is what breathes so much life into this lively neighborhood.
The secondary story sees Aunt May secretly going to a cancer center due to a lump she found. The tension that’s built just from her keeping a secret from her nephew is a sign of Taylor’s writing strength. He’s able to jump in here and just hit the ground running with these characters that have so much history.
The moment with Spidey and the kids, as he secretly tails his aunt, is such a classic Spider-Man moment. Dealing with the bully situation but then turning it into a whole other thing because he talked himself into a corner, but it’s okay because he saved the bus driver’s sister once; that just puts a smile on my face and a chuckle in my heart.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is a perfect accent series to a stellar Amazing Spider-Man run. We die-hard fans of the ol’ web head are in a really nice place right now. The only downfall of this inaugural issue is that it’s not for everyone; but those that it is for will cherish it for being so lighthearted, charming, and drop dead gorgeous.